UPDATE: Seattle Transit Riders Union’s Katie Wilson tells me that “WTF” rally will likely be moved to a different day, due to a separate, large public event which will occur at the Federal Building at the same time. I’ll add more information here when I get it. — Bruce

STRU @ Pride
STRU @ Pride

This Saturday at noon, the Seattle Transit Riders Union is hosting a rally at City Hall Park, to protest the failure of the Washington State Legislature to provide King County Metro with a local revenue option to stave off possibly the largest round of cuts — 17% of Metro service — in the agency’s history. Speakers include King County Council Member Larry Phillips, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, and District 46 Representative Jessyn Farrell. The theme is “WTF, Olympia?” — as in, “Where’s the Funding?”:

“The failure of the State Senate to pass a transit funding option for King County is irresponsible and unacceptable,” says Katie Wilson, General Secretary of the all-volunteer Transit Riders Union. “How are we supposed to get to work, school, or to look for a job? How are disabled people, seniors and students supposed to get around? Our legislature failed all of us: not only will bus riders lose service, traffic congestion will get worse, and the economy and the environment will suffer too.” […]

In this legislative session, bills that would have improved the quality of life for workers, students, immigrants, women, bus riders – for all of us – struggled to make it through but failed, because an obstructionist bloc of Republicans and turncoat Democrats betrayed us. We’re fed up, and we know many others are too – so it’s time to get organized!

City Hall Park is at 3rd Ave & Yesler, right by Pioneer Square Station. I’ll be there, and I suggest that if you’re interested in a stable, sustainable funding source for Metro, you be there too.

56 Replies to “Transit Riders to Olympia: WTF?!”

  1. Yes, I am interested in having transit funded by a stable,reliable source — property taxes.

    We have to remove the restrictions on property tax rises from the state constitution, and fairly assess all properties equally and use this money for projects that benefit the landowners, like transportation.

    1. Question for you John, is there any transit agencies that are funded primarily with property taxes? Also, how did they fare in the recession vs. sales tax or income tax (or MVET) agencies?

      1. Isn’t Dallas done by property taxes?? I know there are some that are 100% funded by property taxes. Too bad there isn’t any good references for that.

      2. Using Special Assessments to Fund Transit Investments

        Over the past year, Urban Land’s Business on Board series has explored the shifting role of the private sector in advancing—advocating, planning, providing, and helping pay for—transit. In this article, which concludes the series, we examine the growing use of special property tax assessments for transit.

        Employed extensively in Portland, Oregon, to finance streetcar lines in the 1990s, a special assessment district is established through a process that varies across the country. Although government involvement is necessary, private sector businesses increasingly are stepping in. Recognizing the role that transit can play in supporting growth, property owners and developers are working with local governments to create special assessment districts for transit and transit-related investments. Critical federal transit funding can hinge on these local contributions.

        In fast-growing northern Virginia, for example, special assessment districts will provide up to $1 billion in funding for the Silver Line, a $6 billion, 23-mile (37 km) extension of the region’s Metrorail system being built in two phases. Phase I of the project will bring the Silver Line through employment hub Tysons Corner—part of an effort to transform the sprawling retail and office complex into a high-density, walkable neighborhood.


      1. Ben,

        That type of grandstanding is beneath you. Clearly I am proposing a different and what I consider more fair (and stable) taxation scheme for transit and other things.

    2. At best this can be interpreted as, “In the long run we should evolve to using property taxes to fund transit.” At worst it can be interpreted as, “We should not do anything to restore or enhance transit until such a time that property-tax funding can be achieved.”

      1. No, it’s more like, every time it rains, the house leaks, so I need to buy more buckets when the other ones fill. Versus. Hey, let’s fix the roof for once.

        As in, with an inherently broken and unfair property tax scheme, where property tax is not only off the tablet, but unfairly assessed and hence generating social discord, there is no way to continually nitpick the taxpayers for more and more fees or increase already high sales taxes or unfavorable income taxes.

      1. As the transit Republican around here, I’ll put in a word w/ Fain.

        Rodney Tom is a Political Party of One, apparently. Although the State Senate got a lot done and protected taxpayers, they certainly failed transit because, er, naysayers like State Senator Curtis King got undue influence.

      2. Although the State Senate got a lot done

        FALSE. The State Senate got less done this session than the 8 prior sessions, and that is with having TWO extra periods of added time.

        protected taxpayers, they certainly failed transit

        Joe, where do you think the money to fund transit comes from?

        because, er, naysayers like State Senator Curtis King got undue influence.

        That is what happens when Republicans get control. If you don’t like it, work to get Dems back in power.

      3. Seattleite, I consider keeping tuition low and not raising taxes while giving schools at least $500 mil in new money important.

        Just giving Dems back the gavel is not going to solve any of those problems in my mind.

        Consider me a Republican when I vote representative democracy, Independent on direct democratic issues (I voted proudly for homosexual rights, for marijuana legalization, and for charter schools and against I-884).

  2. I have other plans at the same time, but I might just cancel those plans because of this.

    WTF, Olympia?

  3. I’ll be there, and I suggest that if you’re interested in a stable, sustainable funding source for Metro, you be there too.

    How is this demonstration IN SEATTLE, NOT OLYMPIA, anything but theater?


    Who here thinks that our urban legislators don’t already KNOW Seattle wants more stable funding? Or is it trying to sway rural and suburban legs? If so, which ones, and how is this going to do a damn thing?!?

    1. I agree this is theatrics, but that’s how things get done some times. Let’s be clear about what Metro wants. Stable funding is not the same thing as MORE and different funding. If this were truly just switching funding sources, than the phrases ‘revenue neutral’ would show up from time to time.
      No, Metro wants a huge tax increase from new sources, in addition to their existing tax sources for the bail-out. That puts the situation in a whole new light.
      Olympia just completed some teeth gnashing, blood curdling, horse trading from education, and entitlement programs to make the budget balance. Transportation was a side show. I don’t think TRU is going to see many legislators being bussed in to say “We’re Sorry”.

      1. But there’s a big difference. All we are asking for is a local option to tax ourselves. We are not trying to take state money from education, public health, or any other state program.

    2. One thing to consider: this event is happening on behalf of many communities, but perhaps especially for the urban working poor who rely on (not leisurely choose) transit. Given how poor transit service is to Olympia, a Seattle based rally will hopefully be more inclusive of this often neglected demographic.

    3. The TRU has a lot of low-income members. How are they supposed to get to Olympia if they don’t have cars? The buses from Lakewood are spotty and I think they’re mostly norhbound-morning, southbound-afternoon; and it would be at least four hours round trip from Seattle. Amtrak is $34 round trip, plus the 45-minute bus ride from Olympia-Lacey station. Greyhound is $24 web-only, $32 walk-in (as low-income people without credit cards are more likely to do). Bolt Bus doesn’t go to Olympia. :) A charter bus would be hundreds of dollars.

      In any case, it’s no different than other demonstrations that occur in the demonstrators’ home cities. Should everyone travel to Florida or Montreal or Olympia for every demonstration?

      1. Very well put

        The only suitable state capitol cities more isolated than Olympia would be Yakima or Spokane.

        Most voters that count and decide elections live between South Tacoma and Blaine.

        Sorry for any offense but that’s the reality.

      2. That’s a workaround possibility, of course, if they can round up a sufficient number of drivers. And that’s people’s inevitable solution to getting anywhere in Washington state outside the King/Pierce/Snohomish core. But the point is that it’s not right for people to have to resort to that to get to the state capital to exercise their civic responsibility of advising their elected leaders on the issues of the day.

    4. The people we want to get the message aren’t in Olympia anymore, since the legislature is no longer in session.

      Really this event should be in Medina.

    5. InterCity Transit has through schedules to Seattle transferring at Lakewood. So a trip to Olympia would start at 6:45am at 9th & Stewart on the 594, transfer to IT 603 at Lakewood (15 min wait), and arrive at 9:15am at the Olympia TC. The TC is just under a mile from the Capitol (IT 101: 10 min, every 15 min, free; walking: 17 min). Returning, you can leave at 1:30, 3:00, or 4:05. The 4:05 (IT 603) arrives at Lakewood at 5:00, the 594 leaves at 5:03 and arrives in Seattle at 6:28pm. So there’s your 12-hour day for a trip to Olympia.

      Weekends, the earliest southbound bus is at 8:44am (594 + IT 620) arriving at 11:15am (20 min transfer). Return at 2:00, 3:00, 4:30, 5:30, 7:00 (all IT 620 + 594). Taking the 4:30 will get you back at 6:51. Taking the 7:00 will get you back at 9:21.

      1. In an environment where 90% of the people have cars, anytime you have a large number of people going to the same place at the same time, finding carpooling shouldn’t be a big deal. Just pick a couple of P&R lots in various neighborhoods with good bus access (e.g. Northgate and S. Renton), give everyone a time to show up, and make it a policy that all passengers contribute their fair share towards the cost of the gas and parking. In practice, virtually everyone who owns a car will end up driving to a P&R, those that don’t will have no trouble getting rides, and people will naturally consolidate to around 3-4 people per car, making for an efficient trip.

        This model works extremely well for hiking and skiing trips into the Cascades, and for an organized group all going to Olympia to lobby for the same thing at the same time, I see no reason why carpooling wouldn’t work here too. It would certainly be far cheaper than either Amtrak Cascades or Greyhound, and much more reliable than transit (no risk of getting stuck in Lakewood for half an hour to an hour if you encounter bad traffic).

        The unfortunately reality is as long as transit vehicles have to be driven by humans, and roads are subsidized at current levels, it is simply impossible for any bus or train in the developed world to charge a per-person fare as cheap as the marginal cost for a 3-4 person carpool in a car that one of the people already owns, without huge subsidies.

  4. On Saturday, July 20th from 8:00 AM until about 2:00 PM, West Seattle service will be affected by street closures and traffic congestion associated with the Float Dodger 5K Run and West Seattle Post Grande Parade.

    During this event, routes 22, 50, 128, Water Taxi Shuttle, and RapidRide C will be rerouted and will travel via alternate nearby streets, depending on the route, destination and direction of travel.

    Please visit the bowels of our website for convoluted and possibly inaccurate reroute details. Then just give up and drive everywhere.

    This will be our 47th consecutive weekend of arduous and inconsistent service that will make you curse our very name.

    Also, please support the expenditure of political capital to continue giving us more money while in no way requiring us to improve our service offerings.

  5. Another plus for rail.
    It’s immune from reroutes from nearly all events except maybe SeaFair.

    1. If Metro were a network of vital, high-frequency core services, rather than a pitiful piecemeal route spaghetti, they would have far more leverage to say, “No, you do not get to send us on a 20-minute side-street detour for your weekly fun run. We’re too important for that. Either move your finish line one block to the north, or tell the cops to hold the the runners when they see a bus, because we’re coming through!”

      Instead, even their “BRT” gets shoved out of the way, because everyone knows it’s fringe, terrible transit line used only by the desperate, just like everything else Metro runs.

      No more money for the same old crap.

      1. I agree in principle that we should be pushing for investing more in the high speed/capacity transit options, its also clear that it is going to take time to build these.

        In the mean time we need to continue supporting the bus service so that there is at least something to use until the replacement arrives.

        Even then, we will still need buses to cover the areas that are not ready for rail service. Even the most transit dense cities (Tokyo, New York, etc) still have buses to serve areas the train system cannot service effectively.

      2. And their bus networks, operational policies, and service apportionment look precisely nothing like Metro’s.

        Only in Seattle do we insist on achieving so little for so much money, and then endorse the agency’s fumbling requests for more money to continue doing the same terrible job.

        I’m tired of repeating myself. Try to keep up.

      3. Everybody in West Seattle knows about this reroute, which is one block off of California. It happened last week for Summerfest and will briefly for this parade. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. I support rail too, but this argument is just plain dumb. We move things for events all of the time.

        d.p.–I know you dislike Metro, but you have no idea what it takes to run a bus system. Metro does better than many. Why should we believe you? Are you a transportation expert or do you have major administrative experience? Or are you just another opinionated blogger?

        The real world requires political compromise, Metro is not immune to that. But the new strategic plan goes a long way towards taking the politics out of service apportionment.

      4. The more we allow Metro to be cut and hacked up, the more of a “pitiful piecemeal route spaghetti” the system becomes. If current levels of funding are sustained or increased, then that problem begins to fix itself and people might be willing to stand up and say “no, your event has to go over there away from the buses”. If funding is decreased (the forthcoming 17% cuts), then the problems you’re so upset with will get only worse.

        And we’re not requesting more money; we’re requesting the ability to vote and decide for ourselves on what the funding levels should be. Whether that be let the tax expire, continue the existing level of funding, or increase it; that’s for us voters to decide.

      5. I assume these are neighborhood-requested or citywide-popular events like the Seafair Torchlight parade on 4th Avenue, the Pride parade on Broadway, the University Streetfair, the Rock n Roll Marathon, the Thanksgiving express lanes run, etc. If we can’t reroute buses for popular events, then we can’t have popular events on central streets. Some people would consider that a cultural loss for the city.

      6. It’s not just that I “dislike” Metro, RBC. It’s that Metro is turning me into an ex-transit user.

        When I first signed up for a car2go account, I expected to use it only for late-night returns and the occasional time-sensitive crosstown trip. Instead, I find myself using it about once a day on average. Because, when I pull up car2go and OneBusAway to compare and strategize, I can’t help but see the absurdity in suffering a long wait, a possibly already-late bus, reliable unreliability, and an all-around nails-on-chalkboard rider experience just to save a few dollars.

        Can I access a faster, more frequent, or better service if I’m willing to walk a bit further? No.

        Does Metro offer any transfer-based possibility that will yield better results than waiting for whichever ill-coordinated spaghetti routes are most direct? No.

        Have TransitNow, four successive fare increases, the last CRC, RapidRide, or the botched 2012 restructure improved the network in any way that will make my trip between points A and B any less painful? With the sole exception of finally being able to use the back door — something every transit agency smarter than Seattle’s or Pittsburgh’s figured out decades ago — no.

        It’s not about a “slight reroute” known to “everybody” in West Seattle. It’s about everybody else further down the line, and throughout the network, that is affected by Metro’s utter disinterest in anything resembling stability in its core operations. Already this summer, I have experienced half a dozen major or minor civic events that have become total clusterfucks for anyone attending or passing in the vicinity of them. And though (some) drivers have done admirable jobs making lemonade of their infrequent 40-foot lemons, the clear and overriding message has been that Metro does not give a damn about matching its services to actual needs. Ever.

        Metro is content happy to just plod along in their same old erroneous, ineffectual ways, pausing every so often to stretch out their hand to riders and voters, yet again.

        This cannot be endorsed.

      7. Imagine, Mike, if we had 15 truly high-quality frequent bus corridors in this city, and if those 15 streets were sacrosanct. Would that not be worth redrawing the boundaries of the West Seattle Summer Fair or slightly altering the route of the Pride Parade?

        But you can’t do that with 115 crappy corridors. And that’s precisely the problem.

      8. I can easily imagine it. We even have existing plans for those corridors. We even voted on and approved measures to enact parts of these plans. Some of them even have *sigh* RapidRide. But, this thing called the Recession occurred and, if you haven’t noticed, f**ked up nearly everyone and everything for about the last 5 years. While Metro may do some dumb stuff, I cannot fault them for having the economic floor collapse out from under them while the politicians in Olympia leave us Seattleites at the bus stop. If Metro had a stable and more secure funding source, then they wouldn’t be so vulnerable and our transit system might not be so crappy. By not supporting appropriate funding for Metro, you’re further pushing Metro down the slope of failure you blame them for being on. I certainly support getting Metro the money they need to prevent nearly 20% of our service being reduced.

        And yes, the four successive fare increases have helped your commute. Those 4 increases represent about 10% of Metros funding. Take away 10% of the funding, take away 10% of the service, likely add 5-10% more cards to the road. We all know RapidRide suffers from some of the worst BRT creep ever seen (where is our SWIFT?). The 2006 TransitNow has been largely suspended due to the above mentioned Recession. CRC to me means “Columbia Rive Crossing,” so IDK what that is. Having 115 routes does not necessarily constitute having 115 corridors nor would a system based solely on 15 corridors serve a useful number of geographic areas.

        As for being upset over the endless rerouting: complain to someone who can do something about it (it’s quite easy), support a plan to change it (I highly recommended supporting the chaps over at the Seattle Subway), propose a plan yourself, or deal with it.

      9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.

        It either works or it doesn’t. And this agency continues to swallow every new or replenished source of funding and continue to not work.

        The CRC was the 2-year stopgap charge on vehicle registrations, which Metro has thrown away on #2 buses that continue to take 30 minutes to go a mile, and on #61 buses that zip around my neighborhood all day with absofuckinglutely nobody on them. Meanwhile, RapidRide doesn’t save you one millisecond on your trip, and getting anywhere for any reason — even between two major destinations — is an exercise in planning for worst-case situations with a 50-50 likelihood of coming true.

        And yes, 15-20 really good corridors could pretty much cover the heavy lifting across this entire city. Metro has historically been exactly the kind of agency to gleefully boast how many hundreds of routes it has, mistaking complexity and infrequency for assets. There are signs that the agency is gradually learning, but that doesn’t help those who now pay up to $2.50 for the most unacceptable wait and the most excruciating ride, with no better alternative except to give up and drive.

        Perhaps someday, West Seattle will cease to be a sprawling and parking-minimum-obsessed suburb, and may actually develop in a way that would allow a subway line to pencil out — today, it absolutely does not; and gross overpromising and overreaching is why Seattle Subway cannot be trusted even with the lines that are desperately needed — but until then, it needs to be part of a bus network that actually works.

        Metro is not a network that works, and in its current invocation to political theatre, it makes no promises except “more of the same”. I find that unacceptable. And as someone who increasingly chooses car2go whenever possible, I’m starting to sympathize with the car owners who’d rather not throw their money away on Metro’s perpetual failures.

      10. While Metro may do some dumb stuff, I cannot fault them for having the economic floor collapse out from under them

        Except that never happened! Sales tax revenue is up. Pierce Transit and other agencies around the State have suffered mightly. But the Seattle/King County economy is strong. The County is hurting because it’s been harder to justify increasing property taxes when everybody knows their property is worth less than it was four years ago; but they keep doing it. Metro has benefited from fare increases, the car tabs and from what they tell us massive gains in efficiency. The 17% “cuts” are nothing but an end to the windfall increases the State doled out for 520 and 99 mitigation. I don’t know how well the 99 money has been used but all I see on 520 is one reasonably well used 255 followed zero to 3 minutes later by a shadow bus with nobody on it. It’s like Jabba Hutt claiming that he’s starving.

      11. I can’t speak for Bernie, but I most definitely do want to see Metro receive more revenue, and from a more stable source. I would like the state to recognize for once the value it receives from having its primary city be healthy and functional, and to start providing direct transit support like every other state in the country with a major metropolitan area contained within does. In the meantime, I expect an end to the ridiculous idea that we must be authorized to self-tax, the method dictated to us and restricted only to extremely regressive types of levies.

        That said, Metro must begin to acknowledge that both of its major problems — the loathesome ineffectiveness of its urban services, and the constant revenue death spiral that puts it in crisis mode at all times and hobbles any needed expansions — are structural, and cannot be fixed by funneling more money into the same old service system.

        Any funding that it requests / demands / pleads for / steals through fare hikes, for the sole purpose of defending the status quo, I will vociferously oppose.

      12. Um… wow, d.p. You oppose Metro getting any more money whatsoever unless they reorganize along the methods you (however correctly) point to as proven, and until they do that, you will gleefully watch their demise?

        Until today, I thought the people calling you objectively anti-transit were trolling. Now, I’m not sure at all.

      13. No matter how much Metro may annoy me, I would never “gleefully watch their demise”. That is not what I said at all.

        There is a very reasonable case to be made that the network Metro would be forced to design in preparation for hypothetical cuts — a network with consolidated corridors and a genuine distinction between heavy lifters and milk runs — would actually be more effective than the network it runs today.

        I truly hope it doesn’t come to that. But it must also not be allowed to come to $3.00 fares, perpetual humoring of cash-fumblers, and 10.5% sales taxes for a service that is identically bad to the service we have today. That is unacceptable.

        Pro-transit ≠ masochistic.

      14. DP is not “anti” transit but he has a very specific and narrow vision of what “good transit” and “acceptable transit” are. And he’s mostly right in this: if we replicated Boston’s or San Francisco (MUNI)’s network, we’d be a lot better off and the remaining problems would be smaller and easier to address. The problem is that Seattle is not a northeastern city with a large contiguous urban core as of 1930 when the decimation started. The public is more enthusiastic about parking and highways and less enthusiastic about transit and transit-taxes than those cities, and that’s why the city council makeup is what is is and why we almost got Mayor Mallahan.

        The good news is that Metro and the city are increasingly moving forward in transit best-practices, even if the progress is mediocre and wobbly. If Metro’s revenues hadn’t been raided multiple times over the past 15 years by initiatives, recessions, oil prices and the like, more of Metro’s core routes would be full-time frequent and faster as Metro had intended to do and as its own service guidelines say are necessary. The only way to get to a better system is to fully fund the good steps that Metro and the city have already set, and to go beyond them.

        Unfortunately, DP has gotten so cynical about Metro that he’s unwilling to fund those steps because they do too little compared to the total onslaught of needs (which results in some of the improvements make so little difference riders can’t even perceive them). That paradoxically puts him into a similar position as John Bailo, who sometimes has some (apparently) pro-transit ideas but then won’t go all the way with them and ends up sabotaging any pro-transit agenda he might have had. That’s when their positions become indistinguishable from anti-transit because of the de facto consequences. (Although it must be remembered that DP’s ideal is a better-than-Boston, and Bailo’s ideal is, um, Silicon Valley (?) and high-speed rail to small towns.)

      15. Mike’s assessments are not far off, except for the part where he compares my thought process in any way to John’s… ouch!

        Yes, I’m cynical about Metro. But more importantly, I have significantly curtailed my usage of Metro… because I got fed up with the consistently distasteful experience. With about 1/3 of my Metro trips replaced by car2go, I will have to reconsider my habit of purchasing a monthly pass. (As much as I prefer the sense of freedom of an unlimited pass, the cost so exceeds my recent usage that I can’t help but see it as wasteful.)

        And I’m not alone. Seattle has proven car2go’s most successful debut. Combined with all the people who have defaulted to biking over Metro, or who stick with driving their own cars, Metro is losing a ton of revenue as a direct result of their terribleness. A direct result of today’s terribleness, not any hypothetical specter terribleness of a botched restructure or a 17% cut.

        We all know that there are people at Metro who “get it”. But those people are clearly not in charge. If they were, we wouldn’t have only a flimsy pretext of a “frequent network”. We wouldn’t have the disaster that is First Hill and Central District access. We wouldn’t have detours and loop-de-loops and willful bottlenecks on every route in existence, no matter how important.

        And we certainly wouldn’t see Metro positing “transit disaster” or “give us more money and we’ll never change anything ever” as the only two possibilities.

        We know what today’s system looks like… and it’s bad. You’re damned right that I’ll put my faith in the forced efficiencies of a major, temporary contraction before I’ll support new taxes to reinforce today’s badness!

      16. And Bikeshare is soon going to become yet another alternative to metro for many trips. No more waiting around in capitol hill for an 8 that’s running 20 minutes late to take you to SLU. Just grab a bike, coast down Denny without even bothering to pedal, and you’re there in as little as 5 minutes. Even though it doesn’t work so well for the uphill direction, only having to wait for the 8 once still saves time, and only having to pay for Car2Go once still saves money.

  6. When you lash your needs to the ship of state be prepared to ride the political tides.
    Maybe it’s time to consider market based transit. They usually don’t all fall with one fell swoop.

    1. I’d love to have that too. Unfortunately, market-based transit is all but impossible to run in competition with government-subsidized roads.

      Still, we do have the Microsoft Connector, and several routes like the Seattle Center Monorail covering operating expenses. It wouldn’t get anywhere near a complete system, though, thanks to the subsidized competition from roads.

    2. If you’re serious about this, make a specific proposal and we can debate that. The only visions I’ve seen are to privatize Metro or for new private bus lines to appear. Of course, all public transit was private until the early 1900s when the companies went bankrupt and that’s why local governments took over the service, because you can’t raise enough money through fares. (People won’t pay $6 for a 3-mile trip, yet a city’s economy and life depend on its inhabitants having mobility.) But that was 80 years ago, maybe things are different now. So, which tycoon is offering to set up a private bus company? Does “privatizing Metro” really mean de-unionizing it and paying drivers minimum wage? Wouldn’t minimum-wage drivers lead to high turnover and more accidents? Also, private operators would presumably run only the most lucrative routes peak hours and on a few high-volume streets. But in order for people to downsize their number of cars, transit needs to go to all neighborhoods at all times so that people can make round trips in the off-hours. That’s where subsidies become necessary, and the reason that no private operators have appeared in the past 80 years. Microsoft Connector is not a public transit service; it’s an internal service for its employees. Only the largest companies can offer something like that, and we need something that also works for people working at small companies or unemployed or elderly or visitors.

    3. “Maybe it’s time to consider market based transit. They usually don’t all fall with one fell swoop.”

      Look up the “Streetcar Holocaust” era, when nearly every streetcar system in the US was ripped out in the course of about a decade.

      Also, look up the bankruptcy of Penn Central + every other Northeastern railroad *pretty much all at once*.

      In short, yes, they usually do all fall with one fell swoop.

      1. I would be remiss in not mentioning the collapse and carving up of the Rock Island railroad simultaneously with the collapse and carving up of the Milwaukee Road, and contemporaneous with the abandonment of passenger service by Illinois Central (picked up by the state government) and the shutdown of the interurbans in the Chicago area.

        When the market starts hurting transit, market-based transit all dies at once.

      2. The Milwaukee Road is a particularly sad case. Due to some funny accounting their books showed the Pacific Division as losing money when in fact it was one of the most profitable parts of the entire railroad. They abandoned the Pacific Division rather than money losing granger lines out in the middle of farm fields. This follows past brilliant decisions like ripping out the electrification just before the 1973 oil crisis.

        The Milwaukee Road and the Rock Island both suffered from severe neglect in terms of maintenance and capital investment for decades prior to their eventual collapse. Part of this was due to the precarious financial condition of both lines which limited the capital available. Part was due to company management having no real strategy going forward other than to try to get someone to buy them out. Since management wanted to make the books look good they cut maintenance and capital expenses to a level that resulted in rapid deterioration of both railroads assets.

        One wonders what might have been if the Milwaukee Road had instead of ripping out the electrification had “bridged the gap” across Eastern Washington, invested in a new generation of electric locomotives, and focused on their transcontinental mainline rather than abandoning it.

    4. Market-based transit is code for services like hotel or car dealer courtesy shuttles, or shared-ride van services like Shuttle Express. I have consistently found both to be far less reliable than the regular public transit system, except when they go somewhere that public transit simply doesn’t go, or run at a time when public transit simply doesn’t operate.

      Even in cities like Houston, not known for their great bus system, I have found this to be true. A shared-ride van to my parents’ house from the Houston airport for $35 took 35 minutes the first time I tried it (after 30 minutes of waiting at the airport) and 2 hours 45 minutes the second time (again, after 30 minutes of waiting in the airport). After the second time, I simply gave on the shared-ride van and switched to the public buses. Even though it takes an 1 hour 45 minutes to get home that way, it’s a very predictable hour and 45 minutes, with opportunities to stand out and stretch to break up the ride (there are two transfers in and near downtown, each of which to services that run pretty frequently). For a fare of just $1.25 (with an Orca-style card that provides free transfers, they don’t give paper transfers, by the way), it’s way cheaper than the shared-ride van. And, even if it takes longer than the van on average, the fact that the travel time is predictable and broken up makes for a much better experience.

      1. Shuttles are never going to be a solution for somebody in Phinney Ridge going to the supermarket or Fred Meyer or Cartridge World or a bar or their family in Bothell. And people can’t be paying $70 a day to get around. That’s over $3000 a month for just a 22-day work commute, to say nothing of their other trips.

  7. The other event isn’t at the federal building. It’s at the federal courthouse.

Comments are closed.